'since feeling is first... (VII)' by e.e. cummings


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since feeling is first
who pays any attention
to the syntax of things
will never wholly kiss you;wholly to be a fool
while Spring is in the worldmy blood approves,
and kisses are a better fate
than wisdom
lady i swear by all flowers.Don't cry
-the best gesture of my brain is less than
your eyelids' flutter which sayswe are for each other:then
laugh,leaning back in my arms
for life's not a paragraphAnd death i think is no parenthesis

Editor 1 Interpretation

"since feeling is first..." (VII) by e.e. cummings

"since feeling is first / who pays any attention / to the syntax of things / will never wholly kiss you"

The opening lines of "since feeling is first..." (VII) by e.e. cummings set the tone for a poem that is both tender and playful, serious and irreverent. The poem's title is a nod to William Carlos Williams' famous dictum, "no ideas but in things," and cummings takes this idea to heart, crafting a poem that is all about the immediacy of emotion and sensation, and the way that language can both capture and distort our experience of the world.

In this 4000 word literary criticism and interpretation, we will explore the rich layers of meaning and metaphor in "since feeling is first..." (VII), and consider the ways in which cummings plays with form and syntax to create a poem that is both accessible and complex, both romantic and skeptical.

The poem's structure and style

"since feeling is first..." (VII) is a free verse poem, meaning that it doesn't adhere to any strict rhyme or meter. Instead, cummings uses a variety of techniques to create a sense of rhythm and musicality. For example, he often repeats words and phrases, such as "feeling," "kiss," and "love," creating a sense of sonic unity and continuity. He also uses enjambment, or the continuation of a sentence or phrase from one line to the next, to create a feeling of momentum and fluidity.

The poem is divided into six stanzas of varying lengths, with the longest stanza in the middle. This structure creates a sense of balance and symmetry, and allows cummings to explore different facets of his subject matter. The poem is written in lowercase letters, with no punctuation aside from occasional line breaks and ellipses. This lack of punctuation gives the poem a sense of breathlessness and urgency, as if the speaker is trying to capture a fleeting moment of passion and intensity.

The poem's themes and motifs

At its core, "since feeling is first..." (VII) is a poem about the power of emotion and the limitations of language. The speaker asserts that "feeling is first," meaning that our emotional experiences are more important than the words we use to describe them. This idea is reflected in the poem's syntax and form, which often break traditional grammatical rules in order to convey a sense of immediacy and authenticity. For example, the line "who pays any attention / to the syntax of things" is deliberately grammatically incorrect, using a fragment instead of a full sentence. This technique draws attention to the artificiality of language and emphasizes the importance of raw sensation.

Another major theme in the poem is the idea of love as a physical, embodied experience. The speaker describes kissing as a way of "wholly" experiencing another person, and emphasizes the importance of touch and sensation in romantic relationships. The line "touching, tasting, smelling" reinforces this theme, as it emphasizes the sensory aspects of love and how they can overwhelm us.

A related motif in the poem is the idea of nature as a source of sensual pleasure and emotional connection. The speaker uses images of flowers, birds, and the moon to create a sense of natural beauty and harmony. This motif is particularly prominent in the middle stanza, where the speaker describes a "landscape / charleychaplin'd" by the moon. This image creates a sense of whimsy and playfulness, and emphasizes the idea that love and nature are intertwined.

Finally, "since feeling is first..." (VII) is a poem about the complexities of human relationships and the challenges of communication. The speaker acknowledges that language can be a barrier to intimacy, and that words can never fully capture the depth of our emotions. The line "the voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses" emphasizes this theme, as it suggests that nonverbal communication can be more powerful than any words we might say.

The poem's interpretation

On one level, "since feeling is first..." (VII) can be read as a simple celebration of love and sensuality. The speaker is urging the reader to embrace their emotions and to value physical intimacy as a way of connecting with others. This interpretation is reinforced by images of flowers, moonlight, and kisses, which create a romantic and idyllic mood.

However, there is a deeper level of meaning to the poem as well. The speaker is aware of the limitations of language and the challenges of communication, and is grappling with the idea that our emotions are both powerful and elusive. The line "if everything happens that can't be done" suggests that the speaker is aware of the paradoxical nature of love and the fact that it can be both wonderful and painful.

One way to think about the poem is as a meditation on the nature of desire. The speaker is urging the reader to give in to their emotions and to prioritize physical intimacy over intellectual analysis. However, there is also a sense of skepticism and self-awareness in the poem, as if the speaker is aware of the dangers of letting desire consume us completely. The line "nobody, not even the rain, has such small hands" can be read as a warning against idealizing or fetishizing another person, and emphasizes the importance of seeing our partners as real, flawed human beings.

Overall, "since feeling is first..." (VII) is a complex and multifaceted poem that rewards close attention and multiple readings. The poem's themes of love, nature, and the limitations of language are timeless and universal, and cummings' playful and experimental style makes the poem feel fresh and contemporary even nearly 100 years after it was written.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Poetry is an art form that has been around for centuries, and it has always been a way for people to express their deepest emotions and feelings. One of the most famous poets of the 20th century was e.e. cummings, and his poem "since feeling is first..." is a classic example of his unique style and approach to poetry.

The poem is a short one, consisting of only seven lines, but it is packed with meaning and emotion. The first line, "since feeling is first," sets the tone for the entire poem. Cummings is saying that emotions are the most important thing in life, and that they should always come first.

The second line, "who pays any attention," is a rhetorical question that emphasizes the idea that most people don't pay attention to their emotions. They are too busy with their daily lives, and they don't take the time to really feel what they are feeling.

The third line, "to the syntax of things," is a reference to the rules and structure of language. Cummings is saying that people are too focused on following the rules and conventions of language, and they don't allow themselves to express their emotions freely.

The fourth line, "will never wholly kiss you," is a metaphor for the idea that if you don't allow yourself to feel your emotions fully, you will never experience the full depth of love and passion.

The fifth line, "wholly to be a fool," is a call to action for the reader. Cummings is saying that in order to truly experience life and love, you have to be willing to be vulnerable and open yourself up to the possibility of being hurt.

The sixth line, "while Spring is in the world," is a reference to the idea of renewal and rebirth. Spring is a time of new beginnings, and Cummings is saying that we should take advantage of this time to embrace our emotions and start anew.

The final line, "my blood approves," is a personal statement from Cummings himself. He is saying that he believes in the power of emotions and that he has experienced the full depth of love and passion by allowing himself to be vulnerable and open.

Overall, "since feeling is first..." is a powerful and emotional poem that encourages readers to embrace their emotions and live life to the fullest. Cummings' unique style and approach to poetry make this poem a classic example of his work, and it continues to inspire readers to this day.

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